WASHINGTON – In desperate need of a spark to swing back momentum Gallaudet University's defense came up with a huge turnover late in the fourth quarter on a dreary and damp Saturday at Hotchkiss Field. On the next play, junior quarterback Quentin Williams (Chesapeake, Va.) scrambled 43 yards to the end zone to lift the Bison to a 16-12 come-from-behind victory over Becker College in an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) game.
Senior linebacker Nico Santiago (Moorestown, N.J.) came up with the game-changing turnover after Becker quarterback Dylan McGuire (11 for 32, 160 yards, one touchdown, one interception) fumbled the handoff to running back John Creesy (12 carries, 40 yards, one touchdown). McGuire received the ball in the shotgun formation but a miscommunication with Creesy led to the football hitting the turf. Santiago swooped in and recovered the loose ball at the Becker 43 with 3:21 left in regulation.
Gallaudet (2-2, 2-0 ECFC) was down 12-10 after Becker (0-5, 0-2 ECFC) scored 12 points in a span of just over a minute earlier in the fourth quarter. This was the second possession for the Bison since the Hawks took the two-point lead at the 10:06 mark.
Williams stepped up under center, took the snap, and rushed right up the middle of the Becker defense, broke several tackles, and out ran the Hawks secondary as he angled towards the right corner of the end zone for the touchdown. The point after attempt (PAT) by junior kicker Eric Setzer (Middletown, Md.) missed as GU led by four, 16-12, with three minutes left.
Gallaudet's stout defense allowed one Becker first down on the next drive but then forced three incomplete pass attempts from McGuire to turn the ball over on downs with 2:27 left in the game. Junior running back BJ Flores (Raymondville, Texas) and Williams helped to run out the clock as the Bison picked up a key first down to end the game.
GU has now won 10 of its past 11 ECFC games and five straight ECFC wins at home dating back to the 2012 season. The Bison have won seven straight against the Hawks and are 7-1 since Gallaudet returned to being Division III football program in 2007.
The Bison rushed for 275 yards and was led by Flores' 116 yards on 25 carries, which includes a spectacular 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter when Gallaudet took a 7-0 lead at the 8:58 mark. GU went into halftime with the same 7-0 lead.
Williams finished with 86 yards on the ground on 10 carries but was 0 for 4 on his passing attempts. Starting quarterback Antoine McKinney (Racine, Wis.) was 0 for 3 on his passing attempts and the freshman ran three times for three yards. Freshman Brian Freeman (Fremont, Calif.) added 62 yards on six carries as he had a 55-yard run in the second quarter. GU was at its own 10 when Freeman blew through the Becker defense, who seemed to have the freshman wrapped up around the Gallaudet 35, but Freeman never touched the ground and took off for another 30 yards.
Setzer added a 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter as the Bison led 10-0. A big Becker pass play and a Creesy 4-yard touchdown run put the Hawks on the scoreboard at 11:12. Becker's PAT was blocked by sophomore Carneilus Smith (Chesapeake, Va.). Becker got the ball back, quickly, in great field position when Davin Collins (four tackles) intercepted Williams at the Gallaudet 30. McGuire then threw a 30-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Mulling as the Hawks led 12-10. Becker kicker Aryeh Moslavi had a second straight PAT blocked as sophomore Devante Walters (Rockdale, Ga.) swatted away the low kick.
Senior linebacker Jaris Alleyne (Waldorf, Md.) made 10 tackles to lead the Bison defense while Smith, freshman Robbie Owens (Waldorf, Md.) and senior Gregg McConville (Frederick, Md.) added six tackles each. Walters had a team best four tackles for a loss of nine yards and two sacks. Sophomore Shawn Benavente (Phoenix, Ariz.) added two sacks for a loss of 16 yards to go with his five tackles. Junior Toby Canterbury (Chicago, Ill.) had an interception in the end zone right before halftime to prevent Becker from scoring in the first half.
Alexander Stewart led the Hawks with 13 tackles with one tackle for a loss of four yards. Davin Collins (four tackles) came up with the Hawks lone interception.
GU controlled the time of possession as it held the ball for 33 minutes, 37 seconds. The two teams combined for 17 points as both defenses forced the offenses to convert a combined 5 of 30 third-down conversions.
Gallaudet hits the road and will make its longest trip of the year when it goes to Bangor, Maine, to face Husson University (2-2, 2-0 ECFC) on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 1 p.m.